The Minister of Defence contributed to top grades

Master students Lena Øyberg, Susann Øvretveit and Iselin Jordan contacted Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen and senior executives in the Norwegian business sector as they were to solve an exam paper in the subject 'Digitization'. Their method took them to the top. Photo: Torgeir Haugaard / The Norwegian Armed Forces and Sigrid G. Bakken / NHH.
NHH By Sigrid Grøm Bakken

5 July 2019 14:50

The Minister of Defence contributed to top grades

Politicians and CEO's helped NHH students during their home exam on digital border defence. Answers from, among others, the Minister of Defence Frank Bakke-Jensen helped them achieve an A.

‘The information we received was decisive for the quality of the exam paper’, says master’s student Lena Øyberg.

This spring, she took the course ‘Digitalisation’ alongside fellow students Iselin Jordan and Susann Øvretveit. A digital border defence, which the government wants to establish, was among the topics broadly covered in the course.

‘By providing the Norwegian Intelligence Service with the opportunity to obtain and store all electronic information crossing the Norwegian border, the proposal aims to protect us against digital threats, e.g cyber-attacks and terror plans,’ says Øyberg.

The proposition is highly controversial, in particular because it affects people's privacy and information security.

‘We find that there is a need for more information about personal data, especially in businesses. When choosing an exam topic, we  weighted the importance of having in-depht knowledge about this topic in the future.

We hope to be able to distinguish ourselves and be valuable assets to our future employers,’ the students says.

Female NHH students working on home exam.
The female NHH students chose to get in-depth knowledge about a very hot and controversial political topic; Government collection of personal data. Photo: Sigrid Grøm Bakken.

Blown away 

When tackeling the assignment, the students had a differenent approach; they asked for help from politicians and senior executives in the Norwegian business industry.

‘We were a bit reluctant at first, and we did not expect them to prioritise us as they are busy people. We were unsure about their response and whether the method would be efficient. But we have no regrets now,’ say the students.

The Minister of Defence Frank Bakke-Jensen was among the people who replied. Through him, they received new information about the government's stance on data collection.

‘I was blown away when he replied. His comments gave the paper a direction, new perspectives, and improved the quality of the work. We really appreciate the time he spent on this,’ says Jordan.

Bakke-Jensen says to NHH Bulletin that he looks forward to reading the student's paper.

‘They asked good and interesting questions about a very relevant topic. I’m glad to have been of service and look forward to reading the paper,’ says the Minister.

A solid method

The students also talked to the Director of the Norwegian Data Protection Authority Bjørn Erik Thon and Olav Lysne, who is an expert on digital vulnerability. With help from their sources, the students acheived top grades.

Jon Iden, NHH professor and course administrator, says that the exam paper stood out.

‘We want students to work closely with the society and the business community, as this form of cooperation is common in working life. The students approach, enabled them to write a paper of high legitimacy and unique information – some material is not even available online. This improved the quality of the paper,’ says Iden.

Popular course

The Digitalisation course has quickly become one of NHH’s most attractive ones. Since its beginning in 2017, students have lined up to take the course. More than 160 students reported their interest this year – and more than half were women.

‘I want to give all students the supervision they need. Therefore, I had to set a maximum limit of eighty people. This ensureres that the course maintains its high quality,’ he says.

I am glad I could be of help and I look forward to reading the paper.

Minister of Defence Frank Bakke-Jensen

The course is popular for several reasons, the professor says.

‘First of all, it is a relevant topic in today's society as it deals with technology. In addition it is practical and  includes workshops and project assignment. This probably appeals to many students, he says.

At the same time, many students probably choose the course based on the business and industry’s need for this type of knowledge – they know that digitalisation competence is valued by Norwegian companies,’ he says.

The master's students have benefited a lot from the course. They will be well-armed when they start their new jobs in Deloitte, PwC, and Lerøy Sjøtroll this upcoming summer.

‘We have gained important knowledge about the possibilities and consequences of digital technologies, and about digitalisation’s impact on society, companies, employees, and private individuals. This could prove very useful, particularly when working on digitalisation projects,’ say the students.